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CDC said the worst flu season of recent memory shows no signs of letting up any time soon. But this season's dominant strain, known as H3N2 or the "Hong Kong" flu, is especially virulent because it tends to mutate more than other strains, rendering our vaccines less effective. It is the highest level of influenza-like illness recorded since 2009.

Hand-washing, avoiding people who have the flu and the flu vaccine are the most effective ways to protect from the virus, health officials said. Flu vaccines are made using eggs, which is unusual.

Children's vulnerability is of special concern this season. The report is based on data from 4,562 patients, including some from MI.

But we all know the flu shot, while helpful - particularly for those in high risk groups like the young, old and those with chronic diseases or immune deficiencies - is not ideal.

It is no surprise that that rise in the occurrence and spread of the flu coincided with a decrease in the proportion of the US population that received the vaccination.

Azar agreed: "Go get a flu shot". It worked best for young children, aged 6 months to 8 years, where it was 59 percent effective. The CDC estimated that it had led to more than 17,000 hospitalizations through February 3. The patients were all adults, with the vast majority over the age of 65. Australia's end-of-season estimates found even less effectiveness against the same strain for that nation's vaccine: a mere 10 percent. Groups of people come from the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere to decide which strain of flu will be prominent during the winter season.

Totally preventing flu is not the only goal of vaccination: It also can reduce the severity of flu symptoms for people who do get sick, Monto said.


"We are having these clinics to emphasize it's not too late to get vaccinated because we expect a lot more weeks of seasonal flu that we all know has already been intense", said said Dr. John Dreyzehner, Tennessee Department of Health commissioner, in a news release.

"It has is a huge lifesaving effectiveness for a certain number of patients", he said.

Federal health officials say that, as they anticipated, the flu vaccine isn't very effective this year - but they say it has still prevented thousands of serious illnesses and deaths.

The CDC says 1 in 13 doctor visits last week was for flu symptoms.

Still, experts said the current vaccine offers some protection against H3N2.

The CDC said they believe in the USA, a better indicator is the vaccine's effectiveness past year. But researchers do not have the data they need to recommend one vaccine over another.


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